Archive for August, 2016


This post sprung from a conversation with G’s new teacher, who asked if there were any German restaurants in Atlanta. With a single question she immediately endeared herself to me, which helped offset the inevitably depressing response: “Not many.”

There are a few, however, and I’ve sought to detail them a bit here for your dining pleasure and general entertainment. If you know of any others that are worth dropping some Deutschmarks…well, let me know!

 

Le Petite

Petite Auberg offers a lovely dining experience, including comfortable booths reminiscent of early ’80s hot tubs.

Petite Auberg
(3/5 Schnitzels)

There’s a venerable restaurant in Toco Hills under the name Petite Auberg, which I believe is French for “Just enough German dishes to occasionally bill ourself as a French-German restaurant but not enough to reflect it in our name.” Established in 1974, it’s been an Atlanta fave for four decades and then some.

We’re lulled there perhaps every two years, inevitably ordering in a manner that would make my Germanic ancestry proud. This holds true despite the fact that there are more escargot in a serving of their (tasty!) escargot than German dishes on the dinner menu.

What it lacks in authentic Deutsch grub it makes up for by its eastside ITP (inside the perimeter) proximity, a well-appointed environment, and warm ambiance.

 

Biergarten

Der Biergarten is true to their name, replete with open-air seating. Garten outside. Bier throughout.

Der Biergarten
(3/5 Schnitzels; 4th schnitzel pending sit-down dining review)

There’s another one in downtown that draws a more direct line to the Schwartzwald. Though I’ve only been to Der Biergarten once as part of a massive work/social gathering, I’d wager that the food would be worth the trip.

The beer selection truly impressed me, though the snack-type fare we were served wasn’t memorable enough to spark visions of Julie Andrews and the chorus of “Edelweis” when I recall my visit. Though any spot that offers a Konig Ludwig Platter for 6 automatically gets three stars, taste untasted!

 

Village corner

The Village Corner will help you forget — or perhaps not even care — how ridiculous you look in those Lederhosen.

The Village Corner
(5/5 Schnitzels)

I feel a bit ashamed that I didn’t first and foremost mention The Village Corner, which for all the right reasons secured the URL germanrestaurant.com. It’s fantastisch, charming — hands down it’s my fave, my Lieblingsrestaurant (if that’s indeed a word or a thing … if not, it should be).

Rumor has it that I once consumed their Wurst Platte fur zwei. Mind you, sometimes rumors are fact … at least in part. Located near Stone Mountain, which is eastside OTP (outside the perimeter), it’s close enough to Decatur but far enough from the urbanity to make you think for a minute you’re in Bavaria.

Zum Bratwurst … or was it Zur?
(6/5 Schnitzels)

I’d love to say that the little residence turned restaurant on Atlanta’s southside was still in existence. Even before I began the first of four years’ high school German, we frequented the restaurant for special occasions. Throughout 9-12 grades, the German club would visit regularly.

What once was a gem of a Deutsch Essen destination in College Park is now a pawn shop.What was the name? I think it was something off-kilter like Zum Bratwurst. That sounds right. Can’t recall for sure, but I have to thank it for fostering a love of German fare and folk and culture and somehow planting the seed for this post some three decades ago. I’ll still raise a glass to it. Prost!

Animaniacs

Animaniacs. Warum? Ich hab’ uberhaupt keine Ahnung!

And here, for no good reason that I can think of, is The Animaniacs singing their version of “Schnitzelbank,” featuring Professor Otto von Schnitzelpusskrankengescheitmeyer.

 

A good story

Screw this and all sane approaches. Just start writing.

“So how’s your book coming along?”

 

An old friend asked me that question yesterday as we stood around avoiding farewells before he headed up to Virginia, where he’d recently relocated.

The answer I used to give was, “The draft is moving along at a good clip, if you overlook the dust it’s collecting.” But it’d been so long since someone had asked that I stumbled over my once-rote reply. That gives you an idea how much dust we’re talking about.

I told him as much. And added in peripheral excuses: “Y’know, work’s taking a lot of time, and I’ve been occupied with our recent move and what-not…”

He knows I’m a writer, but I’d forgotten that I’d told him about my book. And his asking kinda took me by surprise.

George UHaul

George could write about cold oatmeal and spark a fire in your soul.

Foot perched in the wheel well of the UHaul trailer, another friend of mine, who’s more like an uncle than anything, shared that what works for him is just barreling through that first pass.

And he’s right, though bless his heart, George’s likeness doesn’t come to mind when I hear “barreling through,” as methodical and glacial as he is. One thing’s certain: the world’d be better for more of George’s writing.

The Virginian is a craftsman by trade, so the conversation turned up the analogy of roughing in a structure — slapping together a few 2x4s with 16-penny nails and calling it a shed and a day. The first draft … in 3D … real, there, existent.

Steven King even campaigns for powering through that first draft without self-editing. It’s true; he’s tried it; and it works. After that, you then open your office door to the world of opinion — yours and others’.

I don’t have mine at that point yet. It’s kinda like my own albatross; instead of hanging around my neck, it’s sitting on my desktop, ancient like a mariner. It’s tough to put this truth out there without having put the book out there.

I’m the writer.

An artist friend suggested I read Steal Like an Artist. I respect her a bunch, bc as an artist she walks the talk … or the walk … I can never recall. No matter how you say it, that’s what she does. (That’s one reason I own two T-shirts she designed.) And so I bought the book.

Just 28 pages into it, I write the title to this blog, penned outta frustration that’s been building for a while. It’s not so much a compositional call to arms as a statement of fact:

I write. So (with a tip of the hat to Immanuel Kant), therefore I am.

Steal like an artistYour words vs. my words

As professional writers (well, creatives of any color, really), we’re tasked with using what are inherently our words for someone else’s benefit. That someone else can be another soul or a soulless organization. And in that process, there’s a transmutation, wherein what originates within us as professional writers changes into what fits the other’s needs.

It’s nothing new. Even Michelangelo had his patrons, right? Norman Mailer wrote about Monroe “because [people would buy it]” as I understand it.

I think that we, as writers, lose a bit of our souls in the process regardless. Editing is a separate process, mind you, one that’s honorable IMHO (and not just because I can’t seem to pry that editorial hat off my noggin).

Copy Kamikaze

What I’m taking issue with is the act of writing for others at our own creative expense.

When we do, we’re subject to their whims, opinions, tastes – and that has nothing to do with our own inclinations or our better judgement as writers. But, hey, they’re footing the bill and helping make sure our rents or mortgages are paid monthly on time.

So we have to bend. That’s part of the game.

But don’t break

If it gets to be too much, then you have decisions to make.

Let’s say you’re a freelancer. You’ve gathered (through trusting yourself and selling your worth to others) a number of clients that, pieced together, can support you. As such, you’re freer to say fuck it, or more pointedly, fuck you, and walk.

It’s all on you, so you’ll then have to lean more heavily on other clients or patrons. Or perhaps hustle to replace the one you just dis/mis/ed. The decision to jettison the client is binary: do it or don’t. Simple. You just have to make the call.

But say you’re employed full time. Salaried. Benefits. Vacation. 401 … ok? Hook, line and sinker. You’re all in – and don’t get me wrong, it’s pretty sweet as long as ocean’s not too choppy.

The bends

In this case, the degree of your bend is arguably more obtuse than the freelancer’s. As you increase the bend, however, you feel it more acutely.

Castle, my hero.

Be willing to take a stand.

The decision in that case is one of either giving in to the ever-present, sometimes-regretted impulse to say fuck it, or, lacking that, deciding to acquiesce.

Poor vs. proud

Why do the latter? Making the mortgage is pretty sweet. And as a former manager (and fellow freelancer) on a contract job once quipped in a feigned cavalier tone, “Being poor sucks.”

I’ll offer a third option, one which I’m leaning into, drawn into perhaps, as a way of creative self-preservation: Do good … enough.

Be boring

I’ll be damned, but “Be boring” is one of 10 missives that fellow scribbler Austin Kleon, the author of the above book that somehow kicked off this anything-but-pity-party post, suggests. I’ll get to that chapter soon enough, but here’s what I think he’ll suggest:

Do good … enough.

Deja vous, right? Right.

If you’re boring, you’re not being creative. Either that or people simply don’t get what you’re giving. You’re so deep that it appears simplistic on the surface. (That’s a blog for another time.)

But let’s say that honestly … you’re boring — on purpose. Boring affords you something invaluable: a creativity surplus. It’s there to use for you, not others.

Good enough

Say you do good enough for a client. They’re happy; they’ve gotten a writing product that they’re happy with. You’re happy; you’ve satisfied your client AND more importantly you’ve not expended your creativity when it wasn’t needed.

So you got this creativity surplus. What do you do with it? Easy – use it for yourself. For your stuff. For clients that recognize it … and appreciate it. Damn straight.

Acme & Co. wants pablum? Publish it, baby. Preserve your purple prose for something else, something more worth your while.

Write good. Save the great writing for those who recognize it.

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